This semester, the Georgetown Public Policy Institute launched its new Master’s in International Development Policy program. Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Africa region Shanta Devarajan spoke at the release event for the new program earlier in September.
The program lasts two years and is accompanied by a summer internship and senior capstone project, focusing on quantitative, analytic techniques that will allow graduates to work in international development institutions or in the home country governments of international students.
This year the program has almost twenty students; half from the US and half from abroad. To apply, students must have two years of experience in the field of international development as well as a strong background in economics and qualitative methods.
Georgetown introduced this program to cater to the need in the international development realm for well-trained graduates entering the workforce.
“Coming from a position in the U.S. government in a bilateral aid agency, we were looking all the time for people coming out of graduate programs who had really developed analytical methods so we could put them to work right away,” Franck Wiebe, Faculty Director of the new Master’s program, said. “[We're] looking to hire people who have the tools already. We often found it very difficult to identify graduates that could demonstrate a really high degree of competency in these analytical methods.”
Wiebe believes this program comes at a time time when the field of international development research is struggling. Researchers are working on the same projects and receiving disappointing results. Wiebe thinks that the skills that students will learn in the MIDP will help the field get out of this rut.
“The methods within this program are exactly the tools that institutions are looking to use more often to try and improve development effectively,” he said.
The program leaders hope to bring students together with leaders in the field in order to start a dialogue and give students the opportunity to interact with and learn from professionals. The GPPI is also hosting a Development Practitioners series where they will bring professionals from different institutions, mostly from around the DC area.
“This series is an opportunity to have [professionals in the field] present on campus the work that they are most excited about to discuss their methods to the faculty,” Wiebe said. “Our students have an opportunity to participate, not just listen passively, and learn from it and learn about those institutions and opportunities.”
They have already hosted Dr. Dan Gilligan of the International Food Policy Research Institution. Next Friday, on October 5th, Jeff Brown from USAID will be coming to speak.
Those involved are excited about the positive things that the new master’s program will bring to Georgetown.
“It really creates a place where development practitioners can talk with development academics about the important questions of the day, using the similar language of analytical methods.” Wiebe said.